Lincoln Center American Songbook presents Lizz Wright - New York City Article
Lincoln Center’s American Songbook presents Lizz Wright
The Appel Room
Broadway at 60th Street, Centercharge 212-721-6500
Wednesday, February 14
Lizz Wright first emerged during a comparatively fallow period in the overall history of jazz singing, a rare moment about 15 years ago, when there weren’t many noteworthy young artists coming along. Then, she seems to have left the scene for a few years - but now that she’s back, she continues to hold her own, even in a time when Cecile McLorin Salvant and Cyrille Aimee (to name just two) would appear to be the standard-bearers. In that earlier part of her career, she was particularly impressive at a Carnegie Hall tribute to the recently-deceased Nina Simone. While I don’t want to see anybody do another Nina tribute, the influence of the older woman has been a particularly positive one on Miss Wright. Like Simone, Wright practices a notably open-sourced kind of jazz vocalizing, which draws on songs and styles from across the musical map. Her latest album, last year’s Grace, combines songs from gospel, soul, pop, blues, and folk sources, all rendered in her deep soulful contralto, along with an attitude that somehow manages to sound both impassioned and detached. In fact, she makes it all sound like one music - whether it’s a spiritual or a love song or something inbetween. This Valentine’s show is bound to include the most notable jazz standard-type romantic ballad on the current album, the 1934 “Stars Fell on Alabama” (it’s so true!) by Mitchell Parish and Frank Perkins, but I hope she also includes Bob Dylan’s greatest hymn, “Every Grain of Sand,” a no-less moving lament about an entirely different kind of love.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)